I am very vigilant about keeping an inventory of the food inside our refrigerator. The minute I get home from the grocery, I transfer the frozen foods into plastic containers, label them then put them in the freezer.
Tip: For easy labeling, just remove the bar code and stick it to the container.
It is important to keep track of what's inside the freezer and how long it has been there. But how long can we safely store food inside the refrigerator? I found the answer in a printable Cold Storage Chart from the US Food Safety and Inspection Service. Print it and add it to your Household Manual.
The US Food Safety and Inspection Service issued the following tips:
Never defrost foods in a garage, basement, car, dishwasher or plastic garbage bag; out on the kitchen counter, outdoors or on the porch. These methods can leave your foods unsafe to eat.Check out their site: US Food Safety and Inspection Service
There are three safe ways to defrost food: in the refrigerator, in cold water, or in the microwave. It's best to plan ahead for slow, safe thawing in the refrigerator. Small items may defrost overnight; most foods require a day or two. And large items like turkeys may take longer, approximately one day for each 5 pounds of weight.
For faster defrosting, place food in a leak proof plastic bag and immerse it in cold water. (If the bag leaks, bacteria from the air or surrounding environment could be introduced into the food. Tissues can also absorb water like a sponge, resulting in a watery product.) Check the water frequently to be sure it stays cold. Change the water every 30 minutes. After thawing, cook immediately.
When microwave-defrosting food, plan to cook it immediately after thawing because some areas of the food may become warm and begin to cook during microwaving.